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Honour recipient Jean a dignified reminder of those bereaved by the Troubles who are still denied justice

Jean Doak was awarded a BEM in the New Year Honours for her voluntary work. She has been tireless in helping good causes, but one suspects that she gets as much from her volunteering as the organisations she helps.

For as she tells this newspaper today, keeping busy by assisting others has helped her cope with the murder of her 21-year-old daughter, Tracy, three decades ago.

Tracy was one of four police officers blown up near the border by an IRA bomb.

In many ways, Jean is typical of the thousands bereaved by terrorism during the Troubles. For more than 30 years she, her husband Beattie, and Tracy's three siblings have hoped for justice, to find out who killed the young officers and how the IRA knew they would be there on that day.

Tracy has been in the family's minds daily, even as her death faded from public consciousness as it was overtaken by fresh atrocities. Jean and her family have borne their loss quietly and with dignity, as have so many bereaved people.

But even in their silence, their suffering speaks loudly. As a new crisis emerges at Stormont, the long running question of how to deal with the legacy of the past continues to be kicked into the long grass. Relatives like Jean have been told time after time that their pain is recognised and that a solution to the impasse over the past is just around the corner. But, like tomorrow, it never comes.

Tracy was a young girl who died in the service of her country. Her family is entitled to ask what her country is doing for her and the hundreds like her whose relatives still await answers even if justice becomes less likely with every passing year.

Jean took a positive out of her daughter's death, giving something back to the community. But she cannot erase the pain of Tracy's death, the promise that was never given a chance to be fulfilled, the years they never got to share as mother and daughter. Like many other bereaved, she has grown old - many others have passed away. Can we really continue to shamefully ignore the plight of the bereaved?

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